When we go on a mini break we always arrive ahead of check in at our accommodation. It means we can usually just leave our bags there (or at least the car parked), and head into the centre to get our bearings, visit the tourist information place and get an idea of where we might want to eat that evening. In York it was no different. We parked the car then walked into the city centre.

City of york visit - bubbablue and me

Finding our way around York was easy enough, spotting the places we wanted to visit on the following days. Only staying a few days meant we had to be efficient with our time, and seeing the queues for York Minster snaking out the door, meant we’d visit another day, arriving at opening time. 

york minster peeking through

N didn’t want to go into the Treasurer’s House next to the Minster, but we enjoyed a walk through the Dean’s Park next door, and admiring the beautiful flowers and unusual buildings in the streets surrounding it.

NT Treasurers house

We stuck our heads down the famous Shambles row of overhanging shops, and into the Shambles market – N was uninspired, and it’s certainly busier than it was the last time I visited the city 16 years ago.  I did point out the little Italian restaurant where the OH and I ate on our trip back then.  It’s nice to see it’s still there.

busy The Shambles street
harry potter wands for sale
golden feece [in signage
back streets of york

City bus tour

Then decided we’d try and get on a red open top bus tour. The tour driver let N on as an under 5, and we were lucky to get a space on the top floor so we could see everything as we toured all round the city and nearly out to our hotel.  Thankfully we didn’t have to wear headsets to hear the tour, because they’re always the wrong length for the distance to the socket or you can never get the volume right. 

The tour was interesting enough, with plenty of facts and variety about the buildings we saw. From the city gates and walls, blocked up windows in houses so they didn’t have to pay as much window tax and old chocolate factories.

view from bus over the river ouse
old gate in york
york reflections

N loves a bus tour because he remembers things he knows from Horrible Histories and throws those into the mix too, especially when they link in to other cities we’ve been on tours round too.

seagull on the river walls
overlookingthe river ouse
city walls and blossom
bettys tea room frontage
city cruises boats

An afternoon out and we’d decided on our next stops while we were away. The next morning we were in York centre bright and early to visit York Minster.

York Minster

You can’t miss the minster as walk along some of the streets. It towers above buildings and really is beautiful.  There was some work going on, the organ is being cleaned and renovated, but there was plenty going on inside to look at.

side shot of York Minster
pretty old house in the square by the
outside front of york minster window

N decided he didn’t want to do the offered kids trail, so after paying (it’s free for children), we wandered at leisure.  One of the most interesting parts was seeing them setting up for a Halle orchestra concert, presumably later that day.

York Minster is spectacular – beautiful stained glass windows, seemingly never ending walkways alongside the largest gothic nave in England. For its size, it’s still so calm if you sit and take it in.

loking up at york minster
2 stained glass windows
archways in york minster
3d model and floor plan of york minster

N refused to go down to the crypt and underneath museum where you can find out more about Vikings and more.  We lit a candle to remember N’s Grandma and looked at the ornate decorative ceilings in the mirror tables. Well, I looked and N pulled faces in them.  Typical 8 year old!

While cathedrals aren’t usually the sort of thing that children are interested in, if they can find out more about the history, or visit a place to bring to life what they’ve learnt about elsewhere, somewhere like York Minster is worth a visit.

walkway columns and ceiling in york minster
mirror reflection of york minster ceiling
vaulted ceilings and corridor in york minster
Halle orchestra on tour double bass

We were there around an hour which isn’t bad going, and as we left the numbers of visitors coming in were on the increase.

After our early morning visit to York Minster, we then did York’s Chocolate Story and the Castle Museum before heading out to Castle Howard for the afternoon. It was great that the Minster opens early at 9am so we could fit everything in.

Have you ever explored York? Where were your family favourites?

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